Gay man alleges thong discrimination in San Diego

Tue. March 13, 2012 8:44 AM by Wisconsin Gazette

San Diego, CA - A gay man arrested for alleged nudity at a Pride celebration in San Diego is suing in federal court for thong discrimination.

The Courthouse News Service is reporting that Will X. Walters was arrested for wearing thong underwear with a kilt.

Walters, in his suit, alleges that San Diego police practiced selective enforcement of the municipal ordinance on public nudity – what is OK for women, such as thongs and G-strings, is not OK for gay men.

The complaint, according to CNS, states, "Will Walters is a Hispanic, gay man who owns the dubious distinction of being the only person in the history of the City of San Diego to be arrested and booked on a charge of public nudity. Mr. Walters was arrested for public nudity at the 2011 Lesbian Gay Bi-Sexual Transgender Pride (‘Pride') event while wearing an opaque gladiator type kilt over black underwear. Under any definition, he was not nude, as his buttocks and genitalia were fully covered. Nonetheless, he was ushered out of the event, humiliated, arrested, and incarcerated."

The defendants include the city of San Diego, as well as several police officers, a security guard and a John Doe.

Walters says that after he bought a $20 ticket, he "was readily admitted into the 2011 event by San Diego Pride personnel and that his outfit "passed muster" with Pride personnel at the admission gate.

He maintains that one officer told him the gear was "borderline" but other officers forcibly escorted him outside the event and a security guard knocked away his camera phone to avoid any record.

Walters was issued a citation, which he refused. He was then arrested.

"At the jail Mr. Walters was placed in a single cell visible to all inmates being checked in. San Diego County sheriff's deputies encouraged the incoming inmates to ridicule Mr. Walters, who was wearing only his kilt and underwear, and the deputies joined in the verbal harassment. In going from the hot environment of an overheated car to the air-conditioned jail, Mr. Walters was chilled. The deputies refused Mr. Walters any additional clothing or a blanket."

He was detained for about 12 hours without food or water, according to the complaint.

The federal filing alleges a violation of rights under the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment.

City and police officials declined to comment.

Article provided in partnership with Wisconsin Gazette.